2011 Upper New York Annual Conference
One year following its creation, the Upper New York annual conference held its second session from June 7-11, 2011, in Rochester, N.Y., with the theme "Moving with the Spirit: Promise, Power, Witness."(The first was a one-day uniting session last year.)
Special guests in attendance included the 16-member Africa University Choir, which performed throughout the session, and Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey, who, as featured speaker, gave the memorial service sermon, led a two-session Bible study and preached in the ordination and commissioning services. The music of Africa University Choir was complemented by Mark Miller, who served as the music leader.
Area Resident Bishop Marcus Matthews led the opening worship with a focus of keeping promises to local churches and the annual conference. He also marked some key milestones for the new conference: paying the highest percentage in the denomination for Africa University at 133 percent; paying 100 percent for the World Service Fund. He was also proud to announce that the Upper New York conference will send the largest delegation to General Conference from the Northeastern Jurisdiction.
Ordained and commissioned
Nineteen individuals, with an average age of 45 years, were commissioned or ordained as part of the conference session. Commissioned as provisional elders were: Stephen Robert Crowell, Peggi Jo Eller, Eric Lauren Jensen, Patricia M. Molik and Colleen Hallagan Preuninger. Ordained as deacon was Catherine Louise M. Lee. Ordained as full elders were Douglas Robb Childress, David John Cooke, Kim Marie Goodrich, Janet Adele McGaughey James, Lawrence Gary Lake, James Scott Pegan, Michael Allen Smith, Steven Matthew Taylor, Patricia Lee Walz, Harold James Wheat and Leanne Marie Zeck. Received as associate member was Ray Michael Noell. Welcomed from other Methodist denominations was Nola Greig-Anderson.
General Conference petitions
As part of the session business, the conference voted to send several petitions to General Conference on the issue of homosexuality in the church. The petitions ask The United Methodist Church to:
- Remove language regarding laws in civil society defining marriage by amending ¶ 161B;
- Remove what is deemed as exclusive language on homosexuality by amending ¶161;
- Remove what is deemed as condemnatory language on homosexuality in ¶161;
- Update civil equal rights by amending ¶162J;
- End what is deemed as discrimination against homosexual clergy by amending ¶304.3;
- Change the required moral standards of clergy by amending ¶311.2(d).
Several other petitions and resolutions for General Conference were tabled and others were referred to the Conference Leadership Team. Among those tabled was a resolution asking the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to divest its portfolio of any entities that sustain Israel's occupation of Palestine.
Annual Conference business
Session business also included the approval of several items dealing with standardizing policies and procedures across the newly formed conference. Among the items approved was the 2012 budget of $10.72 million; and a new Ministry Share Formula and reports and action items from Safe Sanctuaries, the Districting Task Force, Clergy Compensation, the Nominations and Leadership Development and the Board of Pension & Health Benefits and Communications.
New initiatives and special projects unveiled during the AC session included:
- Launching of HANDS4NY, a joint project between the annual conference and United Methodist Communications, which incorporates a campaign to feed 1 million people in one year and Hunger Impact events in the conference's 12 districts on Oct. 15.
- Embarking on a campaign to create a $1 million scholarship fund for Africa University; (Within hours of the launch, $8,335 in donations and $14,965 in pledges were collected for the fund.)
- Saluting the winners of the inaugural Youth Video Contest, which was designed to provide local churches with an avenue for connecting with youth.
Since the Upper New York annual conference has just completed its first full year as a conference, there is no applicable comparison data. Audited membership stands at 182,000. Members were asked to collect the names of people brought to Christ in the past year for an offering during the opening worship. The session celebrated 2,434 new souls for JesusChrist.
General Conference elections
The following were elected delegates to the 2012 General Conference and the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Lay delegates elected to General Conference were: Scott Johnson (delegation leader, Buffalo), Stephanie Deckard (Syracuse), Christine Doran (Syracuse), Shirley Readdean (Schenectady), Julius Archibald Jr., (Plattsburgh), Greg Forrester (Cortland), Michael Huber (Moravia) and Paul Sweet (Lake Placid).
Clergy delegates elected to General Conference were: Bill Gottschalk-Fielding (Marcellus), Ted Anderson (Rochester), Darryl Barrow (Baldwinsville), Rebekkah Sweet (Lake Placid), Larry Baird (Jamestown), Michelle Bogue-Trost (Newtonville), Sherri Rood (Rochester) and Holly Nye (Albany).
Lay delegates elected to Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference were: Brooke Conklin (Saratoga Springs), Hudda Aswad (Binghamton), Carmen F. S. Vianese (Nunda), Kurt Karandy, Eric Yetter (Owego), Rebecca Lo Kohler (Oneida), Blenda Smith (Binghamton)and Anita Youtzy (Geneseo). Lay alternates elected to NEJC were: Dan Fuller (Chenango Forks), Bryant Clark (Windsor), Ilah Walser (Ballston Spa) and Ronald Bretsch (Norwood).
Elected as clergy delegates to Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference were: William Allen (Olean), Sung Ho Lee (New Hartford), Cathy Hall Stengel (Painted Post), Elizabeth Quick (East Syracuse), William Mudge (Boonville), Sara Baron (Apalachin), Natalie Hanson (Buffalo) and Craig French (Syracuse). The clergy alternates elected to NEJC were: Rebecca Laird (Syracuse), Cheol Hee-Yang (Voorheesville), Megan Stowe (Clifton Park) and Robert (B.J.) Norrix (Syracuse).
By Maidstone Mulenga Upper New York Annual Conference Director of Communications